We’re moving forward with the trip to Miami. The guy who punched me in the liver and told me to go home will be happy to hear that I’m leaving as soon as possible. All that’s left is to make some preparations.
There are thirteen of us going on this trip. It’s not quite as big of a team as we originally planned because of the trouble at Gaia House and a few other random details that came up in people’s personal lives. I guess moving away for an unspecified amount of time is a big deal for people who aren’t already refugees! But it should be plenty of people for what we have in mind.
I don’t really think of myself as a leader, but I’ve been asked by a few people, including Jess, to be the team leader. Honestly, I objected at first. My past experience with community organizing has usually just involved showing up and doing simple tasks, not being an organizer myself. But the people at the Integral Ecology Initiative said that they were impressed with my work on the Global Conference On Miami, and Jess and Ermete kept carrying on about how charming I was and how if anyone could convince people to follow her on an expedition into the lost city of Atlantis, it would be me. It was all a bit silly and over the top, but I didn’t mind.
Each person on the team has special skills related to our mission of turning Miami into a model of green design. We tried to get people who each have a few different skills so we could cover our bases and have some overlap if possible. I’m the main person with contacts in Miami, and I have some technical knowledge and experience that will come in handy. Jess is finishing up her master’s degree in Environmental Communication, which is the main reason IEI wanted her to come along. Some of the other supporters didn’t consider that “practical enough”, but Jess was quick to point out that she’s also a lifelong Girl Scout with a lot of additional survivalist and First Responder training that may come in handy in a city that is still officially considered a disaster area. And Ermete is basically a genius who could be building supercomputers or warp drive for some corporation, but instead he wanders from town to town bringing the wonders of advanced technology to any local green groups that are willing to reward him with good food, good music, stimulating conversation, and some cuddling every now and then. He’s such an amazing man.
The other ten people are all people I’ve met at some point, but I don’t know them as well. Speaking of ten, one of them goes by the name Ten, short for Tenalach. She’s a certified permaculture consultant who advised Gaia House on their garden design along with a couple of other permaculture people. She’s also apparently a local legend, a spiritual teacher who travels every once in a while to lead workshops about how to live in harmony with the land, water, and air through an interesting combination of mystical personal practices and a science-based approach to the design of food systems and infrastructure and so on. I look forward to talking to her about that more once we’re out there.
The other nine have a mix of skills related to our mission. Honestly, I don’t know them as well, so I couldn’t do their skills and their personalities justice from memory. But it was an impressive list of skills and an impressive group of people. We’ve only had one official team-wide meeting, so I’m still learning all the details. See what a good leader I am? I’m already falling behind and we haven’t even left yet. I’m sure I’ll have much more to share about them all once we’re actually working together.
We’re taking two vehicles, or three if you count the boat. Our main vehicle will be an electric bus. The bus is an old 2017 model that we were able to get dirt cheap because of its age and limited range. It was designed for small urban routes, so it was only rated for 200 miles per charge, which is probably down to about 160 at this point. Ermete says he can get it up to maybe 250 before we leave. Even so, it’s going to take a few days to get to Miami, probably more like a week. On the plus side, that gives us the opportunity to make a few stops at local community centers along the way. Ten says that turning problems into opportunities is one of the principles of permaculture. Sounds good to me.
The second vehicle is an electric van. I don’t know too much about it, but it’s green and it looked like it was in good shape. The back is already loaded up with extra batteries to extend the range, which is especially important since it will be towing the boat. I don’t know much about boats, but it’s a little speedboat that will supplement the larger boat (or boats?) provided by our partners out in Miami.
So when are we going to leave? That’s a good question. It could be as early as next week. I’ve asked everyone to be ready to leave next Monday, and then we can just stick around another week or so if we have to. But it will definitely be sometime in the next week or two.
I have such strange mixed feelings about this whole trip. The idea of leading an expedition to Miami is both exciting and scary. Leadership of any type is still new to me, and the road to Miami is long, and the destination itself is still a very troubled city. The ocean did reclaim it a couple of months ago, after all. Also, I’ve made a lot of friends in Southern Illinois, and I’ll be leaving most of them behind, including mi querida prima, Alejandra. What will I do without her? My refuge, my partner in crime, the sister I never had?
But any time I feel down about all that, I remind myself that I’m going back to Miami! This is what I’ve wanted all along. I know it’s not the city that I grew up in anymore. There’s no going back to Miami, at least not the Miami of my childhood. The bright, shining, colorful Miami that stood proudly on the shores of a swampy peninsula that was once thought uninhabitable by settlers. The Magic City that people came from all around the world to visit and live in. No, that Miami has gone the way of the dodo, the passenger pigeon, the black rhino, the mountain gorilla. But I’m looking forward to meeting the new Miami, a city already called Atlantis by some of the more melodramatic people I know, a city with a tragic past and troubled present but possibly a bright future. A future that I want to be a part of.
See, I’m already getting excited about going back to Miami. Maybe I’ll be a good leader after all. In the meantime, there is so much preparation to do. I’ll be sure to post any major updates as they come up. And then once we’re ready to go, I’ll post about our departure and our adventures on the road to Miami.